Pope asks cellphone companies to block minors' access to pornographic websites

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Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders met with tech-industry giants at the Vatican. The purpose of the meeting was to call attention to how easily children and minors can access pornographic material online.

During a meeting with the pope, they recognized the consequences as dangerous to everyone, but especially to children.

Child Dignity Alliance
“What has been done so far is not enough, because things are not going well. They risk getting worse. Too many children, whom we feel are our own, are victims of abuse of grievous harm to their bodies, their minds and their souls.”

Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, also participated in the meeting. He said since Internet crimes extend beyond borders and cultures, they must be faced with collaboration from all communities and religions.

Queen Silvia of Sweden also participated, advocating for the protection of child dignity.

The purpose of the meeting is to guarantee minors the ability to grow safely, while protected from crime and bad influences on the Internet.

Pope Francis reminded participants that educational and legislative measures are not enough to achieve this goal. He said collaboration of tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook is essential.

“It is now clear that [these companies] cannot consider themselves completely unaccountable regarding the services they provide for their customers.”
“Such companies are bound not only to respect the law, but also to be concerned with the direction taken by the technological and social developments which they produce and promote.”

One way to protect minors is by having adult websites verify users are over-age.

“We should be encouraging the work of some legislators who are committed to ensuring that companies providing internet navigation on mobile devices are obliged to verify the age of their customers. The objective is to prevent minors from accessing pornographic sites.”

The pope also proposed a new area of research, “algor-ethics,” which would look into the use of increasingly refined algorithms that delete illegal or harmful photos and other content.

After the meeting, the pope greeted all the participants.

They will meet in Rome for two days. The goal is that when they go home the virtual world will be a safer place for everyone, but especially for children.

Javier Martínez-Brocal
Claudia Torres

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